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How to Select the Best Interior Designer Degree Program near Midfield Alabama

Midfield Alabama interior designed living roomNow that you have decided to enroll in an interior design degree program near Midfield AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your natural abilities to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination as well. So it's essential that you do the appropriate research so that you can evaluate and compare each program that you are looking at prior to making your ultimate decision. But exactly where do you begin? Many future students will begin their research by looking for interior design schools near their home and then comparing tuition costs. While location and cost are relevant variables when making a decision, they should not be the only ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered as well. We will address those topics and other vital questions that you must ask the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training options are offered.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Many people mistake interior decoration for interior design and conversely. The primary distinction between the two is the level of training required. Any person can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, conducting business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make living or work areas functional as well as attractive. On some occasions they may team up with building engineers and architects. There are two general areas that an interior designer in Midfield AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Designing. Interior Designers frequently work on new construction and existing homes. They can design basically any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they can specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Designing. When working on public or commercial areas, designers often concentrate primarily on either aesthetic appeal or functionality but pay attention to both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be focused on over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main concern.

There are numerous areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, for example color schemes, lighting, acoustics and furniture. Designers have to be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui concepts, Midfield AL interior designers employ a wide variety of skills that help bring about their ultimate creations.

Interior Design Degrees

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There are four degree options offered in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new profession in Midfield AL. Your choice will no doubt be motivated by your career objectives as well as the money and time that you have to invest in your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, make sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to qualify for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are short explanations of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees furnish the minimum amount of training required to enter the field. They take about two years to finish and programs are offered at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can typically obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that provide more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative facets of the trade needed to become a designer. They are the lowest credential needed by a college graduate in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctorate programs are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a university or college level. The degree programs differ in length but are normally completed in 3 to 5 years.

In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states require that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In some instances, two or more years of professional experience may be needed before an applicant can sit for the licensing exam.

Interior Design Online Programs

For students who to study in the convenience of their Midfield AL homes, there are online accredited interior design degrees. Attending classes online can be an excellent alternative for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when practical for the student. For a number of students online colleges may be the sole alternative if no interior design colleges are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more traditional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. If you have the discipline to earn your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the right option for you.

What to Ask Interior Designer Programs

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Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the campus needs to be within driving distance from your Midfield AL residence. Naturally if you are interested in attending an online school, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your house are not the optimal ways to make your decision. There are other factors that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a few concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are reviewing to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you compare and ultimately pick the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous assessment of their instructors and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are excellent, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Midfield AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.

Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Midfield AL school you choose should also provide the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.

What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly esteemed within the interior design trade and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a large network of Midfield AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Midfield AL schools you are evaluating and find out what kind of support they provide. Many of interior designer programs offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Various schools provide partial scholarships and others provide support in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. In some cases a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Midfield AL colleges you are considering what their typical teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Midfield home, go to the school and monitor a few classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make sure that the interior design college you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Midfield AL, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, verify that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Choose in the Right Midfield Interior Design College

Picking the right interior designer program is a critical first step toward starting your career in this creative and fulfilling profession. Searching for a school where you will receive your education and develop your talents in a specific area of study is a challenging job regardless of what major you have selected. As with any undertaking to attain an advanced education, there are many things to consider before enrolling in a course, program or school. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly regarded in the profession. But it is still essential that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the balance of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right ultimate selection. And with quality training and your determination to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Midfield Alabama.